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CRTSynthesisGraphic_bmeng by Mind Map: CRTSynthesisGraphic_bmeng

1. Teacher Self-Reflection

1.1. Only once an educator has thoroughly examined their own cultural beliefs, values, and biases, and developed consciousness of their own racial, ethnic, and class identities, are they ready to effectively learn about other cultures and how such constraints affect their teaching (Clark, 2010; Lynch, 2012).

1.2. Engagement of self-examination, becoming aware of societal and person biases and privileges, and familiarization with cognitive dissonance are essential steps to the educational process if a teacher shall be successful in cultivating cultural competencies and self-awareness within the instruction of their culturally responsive classroom. (Bird, 2011; Davis-Rico & Weed, 2013).

1.3. I have learned much thus far in terms of the complexity of culture and how the culture of my scholars, faculty, and locality becomes embodied within our school to affect my students through examining myself, elevating my self-awareness of present societal biases and accompanying privileges—or lack thereof for my scholars—and become familiar with cognitive dissonance in becoming a better teacher who creates a learning experience rooted in cultural competence (Bird, 2001; Diaz-Rico, 2013). I also attempt to remain as humble as possible in this daily, abiding endeavor because I know that this culture, as Diaz-Rico (2013, p. 244) states, is “all-inclusive, that “it includes all aspects of life”, is something that, to be understood and taught, is much more grandiose than a simple examination of external features of art or artifacts, and can be problematic in the way in which different people interpret the term in a variety of ways (Nieto, 2008). Personally, I couldn’t agree more with Clark (2010), who describes the immediate importance of teachers possessing a multicultural understanding and proficiency. “Never before have we had so many young children entering schools populated by teachers who reflect neither their race, nor their language tradition, nor the communities from which they come” (Clark, 2010, para. 1). In my work as my scholars’ teacher, submersing myself within, internalizing, understanding, and creating relevant curriculum which embraces and values their cultures is one of the most important and morally befitting feats I can perform. I “must examine the living patterns and values of the culture that those [aforementioned] artifacts represent” (Diaz-Rico, 2013). Additionally, through self-reflection and examination, become continually aware of the institutionalized and societal biases and privileges of ideas such as individualism and privacy, independence and self-reliance, equality, ambition and industriousness, competitiveness, an appreciation of the good life, and the perception that we, as humans, are separate from and superior to nature, as listed by Diaz-Rico (2013), which I have and continue to immeasurably benefit from as a white, straight, middle-class male (Bird, 2001).

2. The Context of Culture

2.1. Culturally relevant teaching, as defined by the Educational Alliance (2008), is "an approach that empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes" through a deep understanding of cultural knowledge and contributions, the homogeneities of cultural groups, prior experiences, and multimodal learning and performance styles to create an optimal learning environment where learning is appropriate and effective (Davis, 2012; Gay, 2002; The Educational Alliance, 2008; In Time, n.d.).

2.2. As an aspiring culturally relevant teacher, I pay particularly close attention to the elements of culture that my students present throughout their days. The ways in which my students speak, dress, walk, and express themselves non-verbally all provide insight into their ever-evolving culture and lives outside of school. I have learned things of such importance regarding their cultures which I never would have gained the awareness of had I not been trying to attain a more holistic consciousness of the many things influencing their lives. My classroom is one which capitalizes on my the cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic influences of students and their families by providing opportunities for students to share socialization experiences of their and their family’s lives outside of school which provides an avenue for the inclusion and linking of the curriculum to relevant real-life situations (Educational Alliance, 2008; Davis 2012). I hear myself often stopping before I answer a student’s question to attempt at uncovering and gaining the insight to his culture and social upbringing that prompted him to ask the question the way he did. I am as conscious as I can be of the verbal and nonverbal cues my students display constantly with one another and myself to better understand each of my scholars as unique individuals as well as what implications language and culture have had, thus far, on them as individuals (Educational Alliance, 2008).

2.3. A Teacher who creates an effective culturally relevant classroom environment is one who is conscious of differences in their students' communication styles, both verbal and non-verbal, incorporates multicultural experiences, repertoire, and knowledge within the curriculum as resources, implements different interactions and behaviors in response to present cultural diversity, and understands the various cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic influences on students, their families, and within their communities (Davis, 2012; The Educational Alliance, 2008; In Time, n.d.; Saifer et al., 2011).

3. Community Perspectives

3.1. Essential to a culturally relevant teaching pedagogy, is the idea that learning activities extend to parents, families, and communities, and that issues and knowledge, valued and relevant to the lives of the students and their communities, are incorporated within the curriculum (The Educational Alliance, 2008; In Time, 2012, Lynch, 2012).

3.2. I have found parents and guardians immensely useful and insightful resources for my students, the curriculum, and myself. When students are having a rough day and can't seem to gather themselves enough to participate in class, not disturb others, and follow expectations, I will call home to see if anything from the previous day or week may be influencing their child so much that would make them behave in the ways they are at that time. I will conference with parents who frequent the school for suggestions on how to make the upcoming lesson or unit tangible to my students with regard to their culture, upbringings, and background experiences. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with certain prominent members of my students' communities who hold positions of interest for my students, as a way to bring real-world experiences and expertise into my classroom. One of the most interesting ways parents and families have provided me with insight has dealt with the repertoire my students use in class.

3.3. Parents are viewed as participants and resources of cultural knowledge who provide teachers with insight to speech and negotiation at home to best help expand students' discourse repertoire in creating and affirming bridges of meaningfulness between home and school experiences (Davis, 2012; The Educational Alliance, 2008; In Time, n.d.; Lynch, 2012).

4. High Expectations

4.1. In addition to fostering a shared respect for education through imparting cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and performance styles within the curriculum, expectations must be kept high as well as communicated to students, parents, and the community (Davis, 2012; The Educational Alliance, 2008; In Time, n.d.; Saifer et al., 2011).

4.2. As Serverian-Wilmeth ( cited by The Educational Alliance, n.d.) states, "When a teacher expresses sympathy over failure, lavishes praise for completing a simple task, or offeres unsolicited help, the teacher may send unintended messages of low expectations."

4.3. It is necessary that all students receive a clear, consistent, school-wide message which communicates the expectation that they are to achieve high standards in all of their course work (Davis, 2012; The Educational Alliance, n.d.; The Educational Alliance, 2008).

4.4. In my classroom, expectations are communicated both visually, verbally, and non-verbally. Expectation charts for each type of activity (turn-and-talk, brain starter, Socratic discussion, group activity/lab time, etc.) are placed into view for all students as a resource to reference, especially by team leaders when performing group work as a way to allow students the opportunity to direct their classmates for the benefit of the group. When the class is participating in Socratic discussions, I will non-verbally reference my norms by holding up the number of fingers corresponding to the norm which the student is choosing not to follow as a way of redirecting that student privately and not interrupt the student who is speaking.

4.5. Additionally, behavioral expectations of a classroom must be taught to students to meet them where they are and to clarify any hidden rules of academic achievement as to provide students the ability to bridge the socialization within their community cultural behaviors to those of the classroom (Davis, 2012; The Educational Alliance, 2008; Jones, 2005; Saifer et al., 2011).

4.6. Within a culturally relevant classroom, communicating specific high behavioral and academic expectations will effectively develop strong skills, academic knowledge, habits, and a critical curiosity about society, power, inequality, and change in students (Davis, 2012; In Time, n.d.).

4.7. In effect, the idea of communicating high expectations will create a school-wide environment that fosters trust, a shared respect for education and mutual and relevant cultural community support that will empower students to direct their own learning with a strong individual self-concept, dignity, and pride that is both psychologically and intellectually liberating (Bird, 2011; The Educational Alliance, 2008; In Time, n.d.; Saifer et al., 2011).

5. Teacher as facilitator

5.1. A holistic teacher is one who recognizes students social, emotional, and cognitive strengths and who teaches through these needs and strengths as a way to teach the whole child by acknowledging each student as a unique individual (Davis, 2012; In Time, n.d.; Saifer et al., 2011).

5.2. A culturally responsive facilitator is to operate as a guide-on-the-side, rather than as a sage-on-the-stage, who builds bridges of meaningfulness and interest between home and school experiences, as well as between academic abstractions and lived sociocultural realities of the students to help extend students' discourse repertoire (Gay, 2002; The Educational Alliance, 2008; In Time, n.d.; Saifer et al., 2011).

6. Culturally Mediated Instruction

6.1. Teachers who incorporate the cultures of their students into their classroom instruction do so by empowering their students, intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by utilizing cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes through the inclusion of culturally valued knowledge relevant to the lives' of their students, so that learning can be more accessible, appropriate and effective, and thus, maximized for each student (Gay, 2002; In Time, n.d.; The Educational Alliance, 2008).

6.2. My classroom is one that values and promotes culturally relevant teaching by empowering students to direct their own learning through input and influence on curriculum and learning activities (Educational Alliance, 2008). If you enter my classroom at certain quiet work and reflection times, you may hear music playing low. Hip-hop beats, Native American flute and electronica, classical renditions by Yo-Yo Ma, and the feverous pitches and harmonious lows of esteemed African American Jazz musicians. I whole-heartedly attempt to bridge and explain mainstream culture while affirming and valuing the culture of my own students by recognizing, respecting, and utilizing their identities, upbringings, and backgrounds as valuable sources of knowledge and experience different from my own, to assist with academic achievement and behavioral management to create the optimal learning environment for my scholars (Educational Alliance 2008; Davis 2012).

6.3. Such a teacher creates a classroom which embeds and weaves quality information about their students' cultural diversity and thinking processes into all aspects of the school, not just within their classroom, through knowledge of the various cultural homogeneities that exist between of various groups (Davis, 2012; Gay, 2002; The Educational Alliance, 2008; Saifer et al., 2011).

6.4. Explicit, detailed, factual information and knowledge about cultural diversity--which is not easily stereotyped by artifacts, or perpetuating of myths about life outside of mainstream America, but is rooted in the cultural communication styles of students--is imperative to meeting the educational needs of ethnically diverse students (The Educational Alliance, 2008; Gay, 2002).

7. Reshaping the curriculum

7.1. As students respond better to instruction which reinforces their culture, it is of paramount importance that a teacher considers and capitalizes on the cognitive, emotional, and physical multimodal needs of their students through activities such as assigning tasks and classroom duties (Davis, 2012; Saifer et al., 2011).

7.2. Capitalization and embedment of students' strengths into classroom procedures and content instruction can serve as an avenue to meet students where they are, while maintaining high expectations, to empower students to direct their own learning though crafting of curriculum and development of learning activities so they may become better human beings and more successful learners (Davis, 2012; Jones, 2005; The Educational Alliance, n.d.; The Educational Alliance, 2008; In Time, n.d.; Saifer et al., 2011).

8. Student-centered Instruction

8.1. The primary vision of student-centered instruction is to view students as sources of cultural capital and embedding their knowledge, experiences, and socialization outside of school into all areas of the classroom and school (Davis, 2008; Jones, 2005; Saifer, Edwards, Ellis, Ko, & Stuczynski, 2011).

8.2. The ways in which students speak, both verbally and non-verbally, need to be viewed as resources and not as problems, which will further serve to legitimize and acknowledge the cultural heritage of students (In Time, n.d.; Saifer et al., 2011).

8.3. I often give questionnaires to students prior to beginning a new lesson with options for how they will learn the skills, knowledge, and developing attitudes associated with said lesson attributing to the fact that my lessons value and capitalize on students’ multimodal styles and cognitive, emotional, and physical needs of learning (Davis, 2012).

8.4. To be successful, empowered learners, teachers must provide opportunities for students to discuss their own goals and aspirations and engage in free conversation allowing informed dissent, linking both public and personal life to applications of solving real-world problems and issues while capitalizing on student cultural capital to bring about intellectual growth and subsequent, liberating transformation (Bird, 2011; Davis, 2012; The Educational Alliance, 2008; In Time, n.d.; Saifer et al., 2011).